The Edmonton Oilers seem to have started their traditional second-half surge.
Zach Hyman had a pair of goals as the Oilers extended their winning streak to five games with a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, the spot we find ourselves in is one we are familiar with, having to battle for playoffs spots and our playoff lives and we have to start that early,” said Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who had a goal and an assist.
“We have done that the last three years in a row here, I think. It is a position we are comfortable in.”
Ryan McLeod and Leon Draisaitl also scored for the Oilers (26-18-3), who have won their last two at home after losing six of the previous seven at Rogers Place.
Jack Campbell made 28 saves in his fifth consecutive start.
“You want to play against the best and they are a really, really good team,” Hyman said. “They are passionate and play with an edge and I thought we matched that and brought our own edge and wanted to win that game, and we did.”
Brandon Hagel, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point replied for the Lightning (29-14-1), who had their own five-game winning streak halted.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 29 shots.
“We got off to a slow start, but I think we got better as the game went on,” said Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. “I think the end of the first helped to get us into the game. It was an even match, and it could have gone either way.
“It was a tie game going into the third and they got one there. We had some opportunities to tie it up, but it wasn’t our night.”
Edmonton opened the scoring 6:13 into the opening frame when a Vincent Desharnais point shot was redirected in by McLeod for his seventh of the season. It was the third assist in five games for Desharnais, a 26-year-old rookie defenceman.
McDavid found Draisaitl all alone in front and he blasted home his 27th of the season at 3:17 of the first to double the lead. The assist extended McDavid’s point streak to nine games and he now has at least a point in 26 of his last 27 games.
Hagel put the Lightning on the board 1:30 into the second period after he scored on a rebound from an Alex Killorn breakaway shot that went off the post.
Hyman quickly responded just under two minutes later as he sent a shot off the backboards that came right back to him in front and allowed him to give the Oilers a 3-1 advantage.
Stamkos cut the deficit to one at 7:51 when he beat Campbell with a wicked one-timer for his 22nd of the season and fourth in the last two games. It also extended Stamkos’ points streak to seven games.
The Lightning tied the game 12:03 into the middle period as Hedman sent a pretty pass ahead to Point and he was able to score his 27th up high past Campbell.
McDavid took it upon himself to restore Edmonton’s lead 2:10 into the third period, dancing around defenceman Ian Cole and chipping it over Vasilevskiy in tight for his league-leading 39th.
With 2:12 remaining, Draisaitl fed Hyman for his second of the night into an empty net to seal the win.
“This stretch has been huge for us confidence-wise,” Oilers forward Derek Ryan said of the team’s recent run. Just getting to our game, our identity – the way we know we have to play to win games.
“Tonight’s a special game against a really good team coming in here. To go out there and – especially in the third, to really lock it down. Connor scores a big goal for us, and to win the game playing the right way is huge for us.”
The game featured the two top power plays in the league, with Edmonton sitting first at 30.8 per cent and Tampa settled in second at 28.6 per cent ... The Oilers were without Kailer Yamamoto (undisclosed), Ryan Murray (back) and Mattias Janmark (illness). Edmonton also sent forward Devin Shore to Bakersfield of the American Hockey League for conditioning on Thursday ... Out for the Lightning were Rudolfs Balcers (upper body) and Nick Perbix (upper body) ... The players chosen to attend the All-Star game via fan votes were announced during the first intermission with Draisaitl and goalie Stuart Skinner added to the Pacific squad for Edmonton, while Tampa’s Vasilevskiy was chosen for the Atlantic.
The Oilers make the trip to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday.
The Lightning close out a season-high five-game road trip in Calgary against the Flames on Saturday.